Senator Baldwin Responds to Tomah VA Investigation

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Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin said Tuesday that she was alerted to allegations of over-medicating patients and a hostile work environment at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the spring of 2014.

Senator Baldwin said she received an inquiry about the issues at the VA Center last spring. She said she immediately reached out to the facility and brought the issue up to The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General of the VA.

"What was outrageous and very, very frustrating for all of us is that the Inspector General had been actually looking at this issue since I think it was 2011, based on some complaints that had come up long before my time as a U.S. senator," Senator Baldwin said.

But Baldwin said the Tomah VA, the Veterans Affairs Administration and the Inspector General's office in her early contact with them, never said the report existed.

She also had some words for the Stevens Point family that lost their marine son, Jason Simcakoski last August to painkillers prescribed at the Tomah VA.

"I have recently heard about this family and first of all our hearts go out and we are so grateful for your family's sacrifices and for your son's service," Senator Baldwin said.

Senator Baldwin hopes to speak with the family soon.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson said he only became aware of the VA reports about a week ago. He has already spoken with the marine's father and widow.

"The story I heard is troubling. We are going to follow-up on it, we're going to investigate it, probably hold hearings on it, again, for the purpose of hopefully preventing this tragedy from occurring again, with another family," Senator Johnson said.

Senator Johnson said he is the only member of congress to talk to the father and widow to date.

Senator Baldwin said the new Secretary of the VA has ordered a system-wide review, and that she hopes to receive a progress report from him within about four weeks.

However, both senators agree that there are serious problems throughout the VA that need to be addressed.